Philonica et Neotestamentica

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Philo at the SNTS General Meeting 2015

At the 70th General Meeting of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas (SNTS), at VU University Amsterdam this summer (July 28-31), there will also be a Seminar devoted to Philo of Alexandria. While the General Meeting is only for members and spouses and invited guests, I list the topics here as information for those interested:

Seminar 9 [room 0G-23] Early Jewish Theologies and the New Testament (Profs. J. Herzer and G. Oegema). Terminates in 2019.

  • Wed: Otto Kaiser (Marburg; guest), “Philos Hochschätzung der Freundschaft – Im Kontext der hellenistisch-römischen Philosophie beurteilt.
  • Thu: Greg Sterling (Yale), “’A Law to Themselves’: Universalism in Philo and Paul.”
  • Fri: Thomas Tobin (Loyola Chicago), “Reconfiguring Apocalyptic Imagery: The Examples of Philo of Alexandria and Paul.

VU University, also known as Vrije Universiteit (Free University), was founded in 1880 as a Protestant university of the Reformed tradition by Abraham Kuyper, a famous Dutch statesman and theologian. It was called Free University because it was to be free of government control and was to have no formal ties to any particular denomination. Nowadays the university is fully funded by the government though it is still has no formal ties to a particular denomination. More info about the General Meeting can be found here.







Nov Test Suppl Online – and Philo!

Brill’s famous series of New Testament related studies are also available online; you can get to that page by clicking here.

“The first online collection of Brill’s flagship series in New Testament Studies (Novum Testamentum, Supplements) presents monographs and collections of essays that make original contributions to the field of New Testament studies. This includes text-critical, philological and exegetical studies, and investigations which seek to situate early Christian texts (both canonical and non-canonical) and theology in the broader context of Jewish and Graeco-Roman history, culture, religion and literature.

This collection contains 151 titles published up to and including all titles published in 2013.”

Of special interest for Philo students, I might point out the following volumes now available online:

Halvor Moxnes, Theology in Conflict  (1980)

Peder Borgen, Bread from Heaven (1981)

Peder Borgen, Philo of Alexandria – An Exegete for His Time (1997)

D.E. Aune, T. Seland, J. Ulrichsen, Neotestamentica et Philonica (2002)

Kåre Fuglseth, Johannine Sectarianism in Perspective (2005)



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CRINT Online!

68673Scholars working in the field of Philo and ancient Judaism, will certainly know the Compendia Rerum ad Ioudaicarum series. Now these great books are also available online:

“The online collection of the Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum, designed in the 1960s as a structured set of handbooks on ‘matters Jewish’ illuminating the origins of Christianity, and formerly published by Van Gorcum, presents monographs and collections of essays originally published in three sections: • Section 1 – The Jewish people in the First Century: historical geography, political history, social, cultural and religious life and institutions • Section 2 – The Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple and the Talmud • Section 3 – Jewish Traditions in Early Christian Literature. From 2009 on, the series is continued by way of monographs, and CRINT 12, 13 and 14 have appeared.”

For Philo scholars and other interested in Philo, these items are especially interesting:

The Jewish People in the First Century, Volume 1
Historical Geography, Political History, Social, Cultural and Religious Life and Institutions. Section One, Volume One,

containing, inter alia, these chapters:

The Jewish Diaspora
Relations between the Diaspora and the Land of Israel
The Legal Status of the Jewish Communities in the Diaspora
The Organization of the Jewish Communities in the Diaspora

The next volume has two chapters, especially well related to the Diaspora,

The Social and Economic Status of the Jews in the Diaspora
Greek in Palestine and the Diaspora
The Jews in Greek and Latin Literature

Another volume is completely devoted to Philo:

Jewish Traditions in Early Christian Literature, Volume 3 Philo in Early Christian Literature

Then we have this volume:

The Literature of the Jewish People in the Period of the Second Temple and the Talmud, Volume 2 Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period. Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus,
Containing the wellknown article on Philo by Peder Borgen:

Philo of Alexandria

The Vermes Quest

IMG_0607Cand.theol. Hilde Brekke Møller delivered today (May 13) the public defence of her PhD dissertation at The School of Theology, Norway. Her thesis is about The Vermes Quest: The Significance of Geza Vermes for Jesus Research.

Ordinary opponents was professor drHelen Bond, Edinburgh (1) and professor drCraig A. Evans, Acadia, Nova Scotia (2). Professor drKarl Olav Sandnes is the third member of the examination committee. The public defense was chaired by rector Vidar L. Haanes.


In recent years, historical accounts of the so-called ‘quest for the historical Jesus’ have assigned an important role to Geza Vermes (1924–2013). Through the lens of his work on the historical JesusThe Vermes Quest contributes to the on-going debate of how the history of the quest should be written. The primary research question is: What has Vermes’s significance been for Jesus research? Answers to this main research question are sought through the following specific interrogations: What has Vermes’s role been in the coming of the third quest? To what extent and in what ways are Vermes’s suggestions about Jesus reiterated and debated within the third quest?

It is often claimed that Vermes’s book Jesus the Jew. A Historian’s Reading of the Gospels(1973) contributed to a significant change within mainstream Jesus research, typically labelled the third quest. Many Jesus scholars, notably E. P. Sanders, J. D. Crossan, J. P. Meier, and C. A. Evans, have interacted with Vermes’s suggestions. However, scholarly assessments of the import of Vermes’s publications are brief and ambiguous. This thesis explores the significance of Vermes’s Jesus research for the conceived change within Jesus research in the 1980s, and also within third quest Jesus research, by looking into the reception of Vermes’s book(s) by Jesus scholars and reviewers.

In Jesus the Jew, Vermes displays how features of the Synoptic Jesus correspond to genuinely Jewish expressions of his timeFor instance, he interprets Jesus’s self-reference as “the son of man” in light of a corresponding Aramaic term found in various ancient texts. Above all, Vermes compares Jesus to other miracle workers known to us primarily from rabbinic literature. He suggests that Jesus was a miracle working holy man like them; what Vermes calls a hasid

Vermes’s attention to the Jewishness of Jesus, his work on the son of man-problem, and hisdescription of Jesus as a hasid have been the most widely discussed parts of Vermes’scontribution. These issues have therefore been chosen for the examination of Vermes’ssignificance. The material for the thesis consists of parts of Vermes’s books that address the selected topics, as well as scholarship from the past forty years that deal with them. The book Jesus the Jew receives most attention due to its prominent role in the scholarly reception of Vermes’s suggestions. 

The study demonstrates that Vermes’s significance for the change in scholarship has been overstated. Scholars who did take notice of Vermes’s book Jesus the Jew in the 1970s and 1980s did not present Vermes as initiator or catalyst for change. Further, the study shows that Vermes’s suggestion that Jesus was a hasid has been widely noticed. few scholars have included parts of the theory in their own portrayals of Jesus. However, a large majority of scholars who discuss the hasid theory have set out to prove Vermes wrong. The hasid theoryhas therefore been widespreadbut its significance is limited, since it has not gained wide assent. Similarly, Vermes’s work on the son of man issue has been widely noticed within the debate of this particular issue, but it has had virtually no significance for Jesus research as suchthough there are exceptions to this rule. 

These research historical explorations of Vermes’s work shed light on underplayed aspects of previous research, and on the state of affairs for recent research. Most profoundly, the study challenges the rhetoric of current scholarship which portrays a dichotomy between recent and earlier research with regards to two matters: First, it takes issue with the purported ignorance of Jesus’s Jewishness within earlier Jesus research (which is believed to have been put right in recent years)Secondly, it challenges the professed (and allegedly unprecedented)theologically disinterested and genuinely historical orientation of recent research.


Her dissertation can be downloaded here:


The wise king: A passage from Philo

By way of Jim Davila’s blog, I stumbled over this blog post:

“The wise king: A passage from Philo’s Questions on Genesis (4.76) in Armenian

(Preface: Some time ago I came across the passage below in Armenian. I don’t remember the trail that led me to it, but in any case, it’s an interesting passage for its content and vocabulary and for the fact that both the Greek original and the Armenian survive and can thus be readily compared.)

Most of Philo’s Quaestiones in Genesim survives only in Armenian. Here is part of § 4.76 on Genesis, which is on Gen 23:6. This passage = Chrysippus, Fragmenta Moralia, № 681 (SVF 3, p. 170; available here). The Armenian text was edited and translated into Latin by Aucher/Awgerean, a copy of which from Google Books is accessible at Robert Bedrosian’s site here; unfortunately, some pages were improperly scanned, resulting in an almost surreal stretching of the text, but this particular excerpt (pp. 304-305) is still legible. There is an ET of the Armenian by Marcus, in LCL Philo, suppl. 1, p. 354 (available here).

It happens that the fragmentary Greek evidence for this work of Philo includes part of this text. The Chrysippus fragment cited above is given in SVF in Aucher’s LT. The Greek fragment, of course, would be closer to Chrysippus’ own language. The fragment appears in J. Rendell Harris, Fragments of Philo Judaeus, p. 36 (availablehere), alongside Aucher’s slightly modified LT.”…….

You can read the rest of the blog post HERE.